Who is God?


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Islam teaches that God is a Perfect Being, whose attributes can be discerned in the Book of God’s Work and the Book of God’s Word. In this section, we showcase a sample of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s pbuh writings on the attributes of God, along with a variety of other writings and resources which discuss this topic. 


Mirza Ghulam Ahmad

PEACE BE UPON HIM

Mirza_Ghulam_Ahmad_(c._1897)

(1835-1908)

 

Who is the God of Islam?

“The God of Islam is the same God Who is visible in the mirror of the law of nature and is discernible in the book of nature. Islam has not presented a new God but has presented the same God Who is presented by the light of man’s heart, by the conscience of man, and by heaven and earth.” Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 39

 

What is the extent and depth of God’s grace?

“Every light that is visible on the heights or in the valleys, whether in souls or in bodies, whether personal or impersonal, whether apparent or hidden, whether in the mind or outside it, is a bounty of His grace. This is an indication that the general grace of the Lord of the worlds envelops everything and nothing is deprived of that grace. He is the source of all grace, the ultimate cause of all lights and the fountainhead of all mercies. His Being is the support of the universe and is the refuge of all high and low. He it is Who brought everything out of the darkness of nothingness and bestowed upon everything the mantle of being. No other being than Him is in himself present and eternal or is not the recipient of His grace. Earth and heaven, man and animals, stones and trees, souls and bodies, have all come into existence by His grace.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 248 to 249

 

In what way is God All-powerful? 

“Our soul and every particle of our being are prostrate before the Mighty, True and Perfect God from Whose hand every soul and every particle of creation together with all its faculties came into being, and through Whose support every being is sustained. Nothing is outside His knowledge, outside His control, or outside His creation.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 39

 

Is there a limit to God’s power? 

“We do not believe in a god whose powers are limited by our reason and speculation and there is nothing beyond. We believe in the God Whose powers, like His Being, are unlimited, unconfined, and unending.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 43


How do we know God is Good?


What are the principal attributes of God?

“God Almighty has four principal attributes which may be called the mothers of all attributes. Every one of them makes a demand upon our humanness. These four are Rububiyyat, Rahmaniyyat, Rahimiyyat and Malikiyyat of the Day of Judgement. 

  • Rububiyyat [Lordship] demands nothingness, or a state resembling nothingness. Every form of creation, whether animate or inanimate, comes into being through it.
  • For its manifestation Rahmaniyyat [Graciousness] demands the absence of existence and its operation is related only to animates and not to inanimates.
  • Rahimiyyat [Mercy] demands for its manifestation an affirmation of their nothingness and non-existence from the part of creation which is endowed with reason and relates only to man.
  •  Malikiyyat [Mastership] of the Day of Judgement demands for its manifestation humble supplication and pleading and relates only to such of mankind as fall like beggars on the threshold of Unity and spread forth their mantle of sincerity in order to receive grace and, finding themselves empty handed, believe in the Malikiyyat of God.

These four attributes are in operation all the time. Of these Rahimiyyat moves a person to supplication and Malikiyyat consumes a person in the fire of fear and terror and gives birth to true humility, for this attribute establishes that God is the Master of recompense and that no one has the right to demand anything. Forgiveness and salvation are through grace.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 66 to 67

 

Why is God referred to as ‘Rahman’ [the Gracious]?

“…before the coming into being of creatures and their actions, out of His pure grace and in consequence of no action of anyone, He makes provision for the comfort of everyone; as for instance, He made the sun and the earth and all other things for our use before any action proceeded from us. This bounty is called in the Book of God Rahmaniyyat, and on account of this attribute, God Almighty is called Rahman.” Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 62

 

What does the Qur’an teach about God’s power?

“The Qur’an teaches that by virtue of His excellences God is One, without associate. He suffers from no defect. He comprehends all good qualities and manifests all holy powers. He is the Originator of all creation and is the fountainhead of all grace. He is the Master of all recompense and everything returns to Him.

He is near and yet far, and He is far and yet near. He is above all, but it cannot be said that there is someone below Him. He is more hidden than everything else is but it cannot be said that there is something more manifest than Him.

He is Self-Existing in His Being and everything is alive through Him. He is Self-Sustaining and everything is sustained by Him. He supports everything and there is nothing that supports Him. There is nothing that has come into being on its own, or can live without Him on its own. He comprehends everything, but it cannot be said what is the nature of that comprehension. He is the Light of everything in heaven and earth and every light has shone forth from His hand and is a reflection of His Being. He is the Providence of the universe. There is no soul that is not sustained by Him and exists by itself. No soul has any power which it has not obtained from Him and which exists by itself.” Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 43 to 44

 

How do material phenomena manifest God’s attributes? 

“It is beyond doubt that all the qualities and capacities with which the celestial bodies and earthly elements are temporarily invested are but a reflection of the spiritual power and attri butes eternally possessed by God, the Supreme. Allah has made it plain to us that the sun and other bodies are nothing in themselves – it is His dominating Power that operates in them, as it were, from behind a screen. He makes the moon shed light in dark nights serving as a reflector for His light as He illumines dark hearts, entering them and speaking to man inside him. He manifests a glorious light by His power through the instrumentality of the sun and makes manifest His multifarious designs in various ways. It is His power that descends from the sky in the form of rain and revives and refreshes the dry earth and provides drink for the thirsty. It is His Power that invests fire with the quality of combustion and invests the air with the quality to refresh life, make flowers blossom forth, lift clouds and convey sound. It is His Power that enables the earth to carry on its back man and beast. Then, are all these things God? Indeed not; they are only created things. But Divine power manifests itself through them as the power of the hand manifests itself through the pen.

We say the pen writes but, in fact, it is the hand and not the pen that does the writing. A piece of iron which is left in the fire for a time assumes the qualities of fire and we say that it burns and emits light; but these are not its own properties, they are the properties of fire.

By the same token it is true that all the heavenly bodies and earthly elements, indeed every particle in the lower and upper spheres that is visible and perceptible, all of them are, by virtue of the various properties that are found in them, so many names and attributes of God. It is the power of God that manifests itself through them. These are all His words which His power made manifest in different forms. One not aware might ask how did the words of God acquire material shape? Did God suffer diminution by sending them forth? A magnifying glass, by reflecting the rays of the sun, may ignite a fire, but that causes no diminution in the power of the sun. Fruits are fostered and ripen under moonbeams but that does not wear down the moon.

The verse “All praise belongs to Allah, Lord of all the worlds” (1:2) of Surah Fatiha [opening chapter] indicates that all the forces in operation in the heavens and the earth in various shapes and forms to ensure the proper running of the universe do not operate on their own, but that Divine power operates through them. The same idea is expressed in another verse (27.45), that the world is like a palace with floors paved with transparent glass, under which runs a strong current of water. An unaware person ignores the glass and is afraid to step in lest he should tumble into the swift current. In 17:71 it is stated: We carry them in their voyagings over land and water; which also conveys the same idea, namely, that mounts and vessels are only the visible means of carriage, and that it is Divine Power which is the real carrier.”Commentary on Surah Fatiha, pages 99-100


Who is God? AMSA talk at QMUL


How is God the Source of Peace? 

“He is the Source of Peace, that is to say, He is safeguarded against all defects, and misfortunes, and hardships, and provides security for all. If He had been liable to being afflicted with misfortunes, or to be killed by His people, or could have been frustrated in His designs, how could the hearts of people in such cases have been comforted by the conviction that he would deliver them from misfortunes?” – Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, page 101

 

How is God the Bestower of Security? 

“…[T]hen God is the Bestower of Security and sets forth proof of His attributes and His Unity. This is an indication that he who believes in the True God is not embarrassed in any company, nor would he be remorseful in the presence of God, for he is equipped with strong proofs. But he who believes in a false god finds himself in great distress. He describes every senseless thing as a mystery so that he should not be laughed at and seeks to hide demonstrable errors.”  –Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, page 102

 

How can we envisage God? 

“Keeping to the middle in relation to God means that in expounding Divine attributes one should not lean towards negating Divine attributes nor describe God as resembling material things. This is the way that the Holy Qur’an has adopted with reference to Divine attributes. It affirms that God sees, hears, knows, speaks; and as a safeguard against His being understood as resembling His creation it also affirms, ‘There is nothing like unto Him.’ [42:12]; ‘So coin not similitudes for Allah.‘ [16:75] …This means that there is no partner in the Being and attributes of God and that He bears no resemblance to His creatures. To conceive of God as being between resemblance and transcendence is the proper middle. In short all Islamic teachings observe the middle.”- Philosophy of the Teachings of Islam, page 105

 

How is God forgiving?

“In Arabic idiom, Taubah (repentance) means ‘returning’, and that is why in the Holy Qur’an God’s name is also Tawwab, that is to say, He Who is Oft-Returning. This means that when a person discarding sin turns to God with a sincere heart, God Almighty turns even more to him. This is altogether in accord with the law of nature. God Almighty has made it part of human nature that when a person turns to another with a sincere heart, the latter’s heart is also softened for him. Then how can reason accept that when a servant turns towards God Almighty with a true heart God should not turn to him? Indeed God, Who is Benevolent and Merciful, turns even more towards His servant. That is why in the Holy Qur’an, God’s name, as we have just mentioned, is also Tawwab, meaning Oft-Returning.”Essence of Islam, Vol. 2, page 239

 

How is man different to God?

 “A person’s knowledge needs a teacher and yet is limited. God’s knowledge needs no teacher and is unlimited. A person’s hearing is dependent upon air and is limited, but God’s hearing is inherent and is unlimited. A person’s seeing is dependent upon the light of the sun or some other light and is limited, but God’s seeing is by His inherent light and is unlimited. The power of man to create is dependent upon some matter, needs time and is limited. God’s power to create is neither dependent on any matter nor does it need time and is unlimited. All His attributes are without equal and as He has no equal in His Being, no one is His equal in His attributes. If one of His attributes were to be defective, all His attributes would be defective and therefore His Unity cannot be established unless He were without any equal in His attributes as He is without any equal in His Being. He is not anyone’s son, nor is anyone His son. He is Self-Sufficient and needs neither father nor son. This is the Unity which the Holy Qur’an teaches and which is the basis of our faith.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 46 to 47

 

How does God’s knowledge differ from ours?

“He is the Knower of the unseen, that is to say, He alone knows Himself.  No one can comprehend His Being. We can wholly observe the sun, the moon and every created thing, but we are unable to observe God wholly. Then He says that He is the Knower of the seen. Nothing is hidden from Him. Being God it could not be presumed that He was unaware of anything. He observes every particle of this universe, which a human being cannot do. He knows when He will destroy this system and set up the Judgement. No one except Him knows when that will be. He alone knows all these times.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 62

 

What was God’s status and authority at the beginning of creation?

“…having created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them and having manifested His attributes of resemblance, He then addressed Himself to His station of transcendence and aloneness, in order to demonstrate His attributes of transcendence which station is beyond of beyond and is farthest away from creation. That station which is the highest is called the Throne. The explanation of this is that in the beginning all creation was non-existent and God Almighty manifested Himself at a station which was beyond of beyond and is named the Throne, that is a station which is higher than and above all the worlds. There was nothing except His Being. Then He created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. When creation came into being, He hid Himself and desired that He should be known through His creation.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 58


Why is God Referred to as He?


In what way is God One?

“God is One and has no associate: that no one else is worthy of worship and obedience. He is so described for if He were not without associate, there would be the possibility that His associate might overcome Him and His Godhead would then be put in danger.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 61

 

What does ‘None else worthy of worship’ mean?

“No one else is worthy of worship means that He is so perfect and His attributes and excellences are so high and exalted that, if out of all existence, a God were to be chosen on account of His perfect attributes or if one’s mind were to imagine the best and highest attributes, that God alone would be the most exalted and none else could be greater than Him. To associate anyone lower with Him in His worship would be utterly wrong… He alone has full knowledge of Himself and no one can encompass His Being.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 61 to 62

 

In what way is God’s sovereignty different to human sovereignty? 

“…human sovereignty is not free from defects. For instance, if the subjects of a human sovereign were all to leave the country and migrate, his sovereignty could not be maintained, or if his subjects were afflicted with famine, he would not be able to recover any revenue; or if his subjects were to dispute with him and question the basis of his sovereignty, what qualification for his sovereignty could he put forward? But the sovereignty of God is not subject to any of this. In an instant, He can destroy the whole kingdom and create a new one. Were He not the Creator and All-Powerful, His sovereignty could not be maintained without injustice, for having forgiven the world once and bestowed salvation upon it, how could He have obtained another world to rule? Would He seize upon those who had attained salvation and revoke His salvation tyrannically? In such case, His Godhead would be called in question and like worldly sovereigns His sovereignty would prove defective… For instance, a law permits that to save a vessel, the occupants of a boat might be allowed to perish, but God should not be subject to any such dire necessity. Had God not been All-Powerful, possessing the capacity of creating from nothing, He would have been compelled either to have recourse to tyranny or to adhere to justice and be deprived of His Godhead. The vessel of God carries on with full power and justice.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, Page 60 to 64


Does Omniscience Limit Free Will? 


 Must God manifest all His attributes simultaneously?

“No Divine attribute falls into permanent disuse, but there is temporary disuse. As the attribute of creation and the attribute of destruction are inconsistent with each other, therefore, when the attribute of destruction comes into full operation, the attribute of creation falls into disuse for a period. In short, in the beginning it was the time of the operation of the Divine attribute of Singleness and we cannot say how often this period repeated itself, except that it is eternal and without limit. In any case, the attribute of Singleness has priority in time over other attributes. That is why it is said that to begin with, God was alone and that there was no one with Him. Then God created the heavens and earth and all that is in them and in that context He manifested His attributes that He is Noble, Merciful, Forgiving, and Acceptor of repentance.” Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 58

 

Is man always under the influence of only one attribute?

“As the stars appear stage by stage God’s attributes also appear stage by stage. Man is sometimes under the shadow of the Divine attributes of Glory and Self-sufficiency and sometimes he is under the shadow of His attributes of Beauty.”Essence of Islam Vol. 1, page 60


Mirza Masroor Ahmad 

MAY ALLAH STRENGTHEN HIS HAND

Hazrat-Mirza-Masroor-Ahmad-724x1024

(Née 1950)

 

What does the Qur’an say about God?

“The God who we worship and who we believe to possess all powers is completely sovereign, and so He has the power to do anything and everything. At the same time He is Ever Merciful. Therefore, in the Qur’an God Almighty has given people the glad tiding that His mercy and compassion are all-encompassing. This is written in Chapter 7, Verse 157. In another verse of the Qur’an, Allah says those people who have wronged and committed excesses against their own souls ought not to despair and become hopeless. The verse explains that Allah can forgive all sins, as He is the Most Forgiving and Ever Merciful (Chapter 39, Verse 54). At another place, Allah has said that were it not for His Grace and His Mercy, then due to their wrong acts and slander a great punishment would have befallen the people of the world. (Chapter 24, Verse 15).

Another example of God’s infinite love is that He has said that the reward for good deeds will be multiplied by ten times the value of the act, yet the punishment for doing wrong is only equal to the bad deed itself….. These few examples illustrate the true nature of the God of Islam. Do these examples elicit an image of a cruel and tyrannical God, or rather, do they point towards a benevolent, compassionate and loving God? Indeed, there are very many verses in the Holy Qur’an through which we learn of God’s Mercy, Compassion and Benevolence. I have given just a few examples.”

 

To what extent is God forgiving?

“God’s justice and wisdom are completely unparalleled and beyond the realms of the intellect, wisdom and justice of mankind. So how could we ever envisage that God could make decisions that were devoid of justice and wisdom or inferior to those made by mankind? Indeed, if a decision is attributed to God that a crime is committed by one person but its punishment is stomached by another, we would be left with no alternative but to deem God to be cruel and unjust. For example; a son transgresses yet his father endures the sanction. A god who commits such a miscarriage of justice would have to be considered an unjust and vengeful god. However, the God of Islam is absolutely free from all forms of injustice and cruelty; rather, He has said that His mercy and compassion are extremely vast and far-reaching and due to these attributes He is a Forgiving God.



What does ‘Allah’ mean?

“The very first chapter of the Holy Qur’an states that ‘Your Lord is Allah,’ and the meaning of ‘Allah’ is the Supreme Being Who is the possessor of all perfect attributes, completely free of all defects and flaws. He is the Sole Possessor of all of the attributes and qualities that could ever be envisaged by man. In addition He also possesses countless attributes that human beings are unable to comprehend due to their limited understanding. The word ‘Allah’ is a distinctive name that can only be used to describe that Perfect Being Who is not only free from all flaws or potential flaws, but Who also possesses all perfect attributes and characteristics. When we claim that Allah is ‘Perfect’ it is based on reality, because the very definition of perfection is based on two fundamental characteristics.”

 

What does the attribute ‘Lord of all the worlds’ mean?

“The Qur’an has further told us that the majesty, kindness and beauty of Allah have no parallel. One of the most important and fundamental attributes of Allah is that He is ‘Lord of all the Worlds.’ This means that He is the God Who nourishes and sustains all peoples. He fulfils all necessary requirements and provides the means of subsistence for all people, without any form of discrimination. God, according to Islam, is the God for the entire world. He is the God of the Muslims and so He provides provisions and nourishment to them. He is also the God of the Christians and the Jews and so He provides for them all that they need in this world. He is also the God of the Hindus, Sikhs and the people of all faiths and religions and so He has bestowed them all with the means of life and sustenance. In fact, God even provides to those who do not believe in Him and who believe that whatever they possess is either a result of their own efforts or due to scientific advancements.”

 

What does the Quran say about God’s graciousness?

“In the Qur’an, Allah has said that those people who do not believe in the existence of God question Muslims by asking: “Who is the Gracious God that you refer to?” In reply, the Qur’an says that they should be told that the Gracious God is He who is the source of all blessings and from Whom all goodness shines forth. It is the Gracious God Who has created the Universe and within it, He has created the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets. All of this has been created not just for the benefit of Muslims but for all Creation without any discrimination or prejudice. Those people who perceive all of this, who truly believe in the Gracious God and who understand the scope of His kindness and benevolence are engulfed in gratitude to Him. Such people walk upon the earth with immense humility and live in a good and kindly way. They do not cause harm or suffering to anyone, and if other people approach them in anger or in a harsh manner, they reply in a dignified way, with peace and affection. They respond to abuse and curses with prayers alone and so they develop those qualities within themselves that are reflective of the Gracious and Loving God. In other words they strive to benefit and to do good to all others.”



How is God’s mercy different from His grace?

“The third core Attribute of God mentioned in the Qur’an is of being ‘Merciful’. Whilst God’s Attribute of being ‘Gracious’ means His blessings and benevolence are distributed equally to all, His Attribute of ‘Mercy’ is granted to humans based on their individual conduct. As the Merciful God, Allah provides the very best rewards to those who follow His commands. God Almighty rewards each person who strives and endeavours to walk the path of goodness with the very best fruits for his efforts. As the Sympathetic and Kind God, He overlooks and covers any shortcomings in a person’s efforts and does not let a person’s effort go to waste, rather He values and rewards it. If a person maintains a strong connection with God, He rewards him in truly miraculous ways and by answering his prayers He displays miracles.”

 

What does the attribute ‘Master of the day of Judgement’ mean?

“The fourth fundamental Attribute of God according to Islam is that God is the ‘Master of the Day of Judgement.’ He is the master of punishments and rewards. This attribute does not only relate to God’s judgment in the Hereafter but even in this life there is reward and punishment from God. Humans will certainly be held to account for their own actions in the life to come. They will be rewarded for their good acts and punished for their mistakes. In the worldly system of judgement, the concept of reward and punishment appears to be based on a principle of absolute equality. However, Islam teaches that because God is the Master of everything, He is not bound by the law that He must necessarily punish every bad deed. In fact, when God’s other Attributes of grace, mercy and compassion come into play Allah can forgive someone altogether in reward for any single act of goodness.

An example of this element of God’s kindness is narrated in a tradition of the Holy Prophet MuhammadSaw whereby he said that once a person had killed 100 people and having done so finally repented for his sins. He was sincere in his remorse and so he set out in search of true repentance, however during that period he died. Nevertheless, Allah was pleased at his final act of repentance and so forgave Him for all of his killings, and admitted him into Heaven. In this case, Allah’s Sovereignty and His being the ‘Master’ came into effect. In the same way, in this very life God overlooks many errors or mistakes committed by man and saves him from the negative consequences and harm associated with those acts. In fact, due to His Grace and Mercy, sometimes Allah even brings about positive and beneficial results from those mistakes. This is the difference between God’s Laws and man-made laws, because in man-made laws, sins and wrong acts only lead to sanction.”


Further Resources

Mirza Tahir Ahmad 



 

  • What is the extent of God’s forgiveness? – see answer at [0:12 to 0:35 mins]
  • Why do we assume that God is good? – see answer

Review of Religions

  • If God is Powerful and Merciful then why does He not rid the world of misery? – see answer here
  • What is the nature of ‘Arsh’, the throne of Allah? – see answer here
  • What is the nature of God’s knowledge? – see answer here
  • What is the relationship between creation and the word of God? – see answer here
  • How can the attribute of ‘most exalted’ provide evidence for the existence of God? – see answer here
  • What is the exact number of the names of Allah? – see answer here

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